You’ve heard this old adage so frequently
that it’s lost its importance: Eat your breakfast. And yet, those typically ignoring this advice (college students) should prioritize eating regular meals. If a growling stomach and a “hangry” attitude aren’t enough to persuade you, maybe malnutrition and harmful physiological changes will be. Here are four reasons to reconsider adjusting your schedule or backpack contents to ensure you don’t have to skip meals and snacks.
1. College students are already prone to malnutrition.
The most common reason? Time constraints. As schedules become cluttered with classes, work, meetings and coffee dates, health is
the first to go because it’s the easiest to sacrifice.
Not only do busy agendas lead to having less time to eat, but they also encourage eating the quickest, cheapest meals. Before long, having “lunch” at 4 pm becomes the norm, and seeking out healthy options is no longer a priority. If we’re honest, what sounds better after a long day: Chinese takeout of white rice and teriyaki chicken, or half an hour of cooking before eating?
2. Nutrient deficiencies can lead to adverse effects on mental health.
As the National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD) states, there is a connection between one’s food and mental health. There is evidence that improper eating times, as well as continuous nutrition deficiencies, lead to negative effects on mental health.
For example, folate—found in leafy greens and legumes—is essential for supporting red blood cell production. Without it, the body suffers from red blood cell deficiency and loses nerve support. All this leads to apathy, poor concentration, poor sleep, fatigue and depression. If the body suffers, the mind does as well.
3. Your body responds with low blood sugar levels.
When you don’t feed your hungry body, your blood sugar levels plummet and the increased hunger pangs are bound to encourage overeating at your next meal. In the long run, skipping meals regularly means having intensely fluctuating blood sugar levels, as well as high insulin concentrations at particular times. Both of these can contribute to a reality that some researchers believe is linked to a greater chance of heart disease in the future.
As Forbes states, “skipping the early meal keeps your body in the stressful state of fasting for longer, which can disrupt your metabolism in considerable and, apparently, life-threatening, ways.”
4. Binge eating is unavoidable and brings its own consequences.
When you finally get to eat dinner, your eyes are definitely bigger than your stomach. This is how people overeat, resulting in unhealthy weight gain. With midnight snacking and back-to-back classes, weight gain is too common of an unfortunate reality for many college students that’s avoidable.
We understand that for some of us, skipping meals is not a choice but a result of financial limitations—which no student should have to go through. If this is the case, campus organizations like the UC Berkeley Food Pantry and The Bear Pantry, as well as the Food Assistance Program, exist to help out when possible.